A Summer Remembered

Reflection—where to begin?  LIBS602 is the first class that have taken to begin my graduate studies.  What a thrill it has given me to get back into the world of academia.  In addition, it is the first online class that I have ever taken.  For me it has been somewhat of a whirlwind of late nights, while the family sleeps, in order to get all of my work completed.  I have enjoyed all of the cool sites that I have found, and of course I have enjoyed the technology part—when it is working.

 

By far I would have to say that my favorite part of all was coming to campus and getting to know other students in the program!  I was not looking forward to spending two days away from my family; however, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

 

Enjoy your upcoming school year, colleagues, and I hope to see you again during our studies and travels.

 

Here is my site for our final presentation:  Portfolio Assignment / Conference Proposal

 

 

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Staying Current…is that possible in this digital age?

Okay, I know we are supposed to share our thoughts on the websites, but I have put a plug in for not just Shadow Puppet (for students) but Shadow Puppet Edu (for educators).  It is a free app designed for the iPhone/iPad that is simple and easy to use.  All you do is use the pictures on your phone to create a video with your voice narrating.  I know there are other apps that do this as well but the ease of use was incredible!  After you have finished the app gives you icons that you can upload to, i.e., YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter.  You can even save it to your camera roll on your phone.

Vocabulary.com

WARNING!  THIS SITE IS ADDICTING!  At first I tried to quickly click my way through the vocabulary questions; however, I kept getting them wrong.  Wondering to if these words were too difficult for me, my challenge began.  Because of the different formats of questioning, I really had to think about them.  After I began reading more thoroughly, I was able to earn badges for my letterboard (I could see students enjoying this).  When I missed a word, it was repeated in a different way, and easy-to-understand explanations were given.

The site’s description states that they match words according to the user’s ability.  It also touts that it has the “fastest most useful dictionary in the world” and that its words are not meaningless but “are found in books, periodicals, and other material that cumulatively contain over 1.6 billion words.”  One and a half hour later, I am writing my review…yes, it is addicting and I think students could definitely enjoy it instead of the mundane vocabulary workbook.  In addition, educators can create vocabulary lists specific to what they are studying, but I really enjoyed the random words.

Downside:  If the random word choices were used instead of a class list, I have yet to figure out how students would be held accountable for the words learned (at least within the site).

Canva.com

I originally chose to check it out because it says that you can “create dynamic flyers, presentations, banners, infographics…”  The graphics that were available for use in its 23 second tutorial were stunning and the process seemed easy, but when I was creating my own, it wasn’t as seamless as it appeared.  In addition, most images cost $1.00 to use.  Of course the “vibrant stock photos” that were free were definitely not that spectacular.  This site would be wonderful for students to create infographics of any sort—book poster, persuasive ad, or even a banner in any class, so, if you don’t mind paying one dollar for each image that you use then this is the site for you.

Kaizena.com

I signed up for Kaizena and just as it says, it was “quick and easy.”  This site gives the educator the ability to respond to students GoogleDocs drafts by text comments and/or links  to student work from GoogleDrive.  But not just that, it has the ability for the instructor to embed voice comments about the work!  This could be VERY HELPFUL in saving time instead of tying in comments.  For example: when scoring writing–highlighting the referenced text and giving a voice comments, in my opinion, would be much faster than highlighting the referenced text then typing comments.  The only drawback that I can see is that the instructor would have to upload each student’s document to Kaizena; however, each upload does seem is quick once you have found the document you want.

Animoto Wins My Vote

http://animoto.com/play/0bZbpRn1uFWYmZxoORK0yA

  • Animoto–I have used this program for a while now and still love it.  While I do think its layouts seem older, the high school student may appreciate it more.  It already comes with a large variety of music to add to your video but also offers the user the option of adding his/her own music.  I have used this in the class as a teacher; however, the program limits the number of usernames it gives teacher, so I have had to ask for other teachers to share theirs.  Students have created book trailers and they have been awesome to watch.  I do find that students seem to enjoy Prezi more, though
  • PowToon–Cute, cute, cute!  I think students of all ages would like the fun cartoon icons and snappy sounds with this one.  I made a video using one of the suggested templates but had a little trouble figuring out how to delete some of the preexisting images.  Older students could have fun with this one while creating book summaries
  • Pixiclip–Okay…hahaha…I think I uploaded a picture of my daughter while discussing comma rules in my pajamas, but I could never find the clip after I published it…oops!  I really like this idea and think I could use it as a librarian to help students get familiar with the layout and location of books in the library.  I could upload a map and then draw all the while narrating in the background (not in P.J.s).  I would also like to upload it to the library’s website.  The program was easy to get into and sing on, but it didn’t give much information about how to accomplish what you wanted to do

Wonderful Websites Where are You?

Being asked to share two websites that are pleasing to the eye and that I would consider using as a prototype for my own, I set out on Google and searched “school library Google sites” having decided that I would like to create my own within Google.  Please with the plethora, I found it difficult to narrow down the choices, but here are my two:

https://sites.google.com/a/apps.district279.org/fair-oaks-media-center/home

Fair Oaks Media Center wins my award for the most student and staff friendly site!  Five shiny icons entice the viewer to “click here” on the very relevant places they can visit—the first one being the library catalog itself, nice choice.  I love a convenient search box and this site has not only one but three—one to search within the site itself, one to search Dictionary.com, and one to search Google.  This is definitely a plus in my book.  Not too far down and able to be spotted without scrolling is a slideshow of the students of Fair Oaks reading in their library.  I can envision students going to the site just to see themselves and their friends, and while there, getting hook/familiar with the library itself.  Brilliant!

 https://sites.google.com/site/screekmediacenter/Home

Pull up Sycamore Creek’s Media Center and Avatar Andrea Lyons introduces herself and welcomes you to the library.  This little ditty is at the very top of the page and begged me to click on it as soon as it appeared.  It’s true—text with audio makes the graphic stand out; however, the text is what might be missing.  I’m not too sure that even Reynolds himself would be comfortable with all of this “white space,” but the awesome graphic that follows might convince him to stay.  A drawing of a cuddly crocodile (school mascot) reading to students, cute, cute, cute!  But where is the content?  Strain your eye to the upper left to find the Navigation sentences.  While I do enjoy a clutter-free list, I do think these could be enhanced with a larger font and more space between them.

Podcast-Ted Talk with John McWhorter

I have used Ted Talks in the past while searching them through YouTube.com, and I have yet to hear a Ted Talk that was not motivating.  While always searching them through YouTube.com, it has never occurred to me that they are indeed podcasts.

Since I teach middle schoolers English, I chose to listen to John McWhorter:  Txtng is killing language. JK!!!  The title of the podcast attracted me; however, never having been good at figuring out abbreviations, I was secretly wondering if the JK really represented Just Kidding as in the texting world of language.  I was pleasantly pleased to find that indeed it did.

McWhorter, a linguist, points out that since the dawn of time scholars have been complaining about the downfall of the way language, in particular spelling, has declined.  He quotes documents dating as far back to 63 A.D. where this was the very complaint of the writer.   In addition, he praises the modern era of texters who are nothing short of “linguistic miracles.”   Another interesting detail McWhorter points out is that texters themselves are creating a whole new vocabulary and that the type of “being bilingual” is “evidence of a balancing act.”  Therefore, he feels that the English language is definitely NOT in danger, but on the cusp of something even greater.

 

I’m cooky for Voki….or cocky for Voki?

http://www.voki.com/pickup.php?scid=10015409&height=267&width=200

Okay, that’s pushing it… Fun times creating my avatar, editing it, and then adding sound through Voki.com!  From Richard Byrne’s website, freetech4teachers.com, article, “Three Ways to Quickly Create Audio Messages for Your Blog,”  he suggests that even though information is written in text, if it is included in audio, it is more likely to make an impact on the reader/hearer.  I think this feature would be awesome to have on the site that includes homework, quizzes, tests announcements.  In addition, it could be used for back up notes for students who may require it in their Individual Education Plan.  Also, when students miss an important assignment, it could be recorded with the written form to ensure understanding.

Wow, I thought Voki.com was easy until I tried Audiopal.com! Super easy but no avatar. Just as Voki, Audiopal allow the creator to email the creation to yourself and/or a friend. I could see this being used for blogs and website (no surprise there!).

Infographic–Woo Hoo!

Infographic--Woo Hoo!
After reading a couple of posts about how “user-friendly” Visual.ly and Ease.ly are, I tried both to create my infograph; however, my school has blocked both of these sites, so I settled with piktochart.com make the above creation. True to the statements of it not being friendly, it wasn’t.

Infographs are a clear, concise way to present and take in information while holding interest and having fun! I chose a pre-existing template within pictochart.com and adjusted the images. The photographs I used are from my own English class where students were photographed holding up a sign that represented the number of books they had read mid-year.In my graphic I am comparing grade levels and their percentages of reading for the entire year. As a librarian, I hope to get students excited using visuals in order to increase/encourage reading.

Within my classroom I would like to use something like this to display progress. I like how Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen Design, suggests in chapter four to keep the space as clean as possible and not to crowd the picture. In order to better achieve this, I would like to create three different visuals with the students pictures to share with each class.

BigHugeLabs.com Wins My Vote!

BigHugeLabs.com

I don’t know if it was because this was the first site if visited or if it was JUST THAT GREAT!  Bighugelabs.com is totally user and student friendly.  I am going to use it with my students this year as a way for them to introduce themselves and the genre of books they enjoy reading.  For example:  a student may take a “selfie” of him/herself reading their favorite book, make a poster (above) with appropriate titles and subtitles to represent their preference.  Love it!  In addition, there were many other other options within this site as well.  All of them looked like something that you could definitely get the students on board with.

ImageChef.com–another good site.  I could see using this to have students upload a picture and create a poem to make visual poetry.  This site was also user-friendly and allowed the user to upload and get-right-into-it.

Foldplay.com–while this site was not difficult to use, it seemed like the tasks may be a little more difficult or a little more hands-on.  I think this one students could really enjoy because they are so technology motivated and most all have cameras on their phones.  What a great way to have students manipulate the photos into a book or some type of foldable.  I get where doing a book (possibly representing literary devices with pictures) would relate; however, while other “cool” foldables were awesome, I cannot see how I could work them into English and cover an SOL.

fault in our stars